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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Guest Blog: Sue Swift: The Plusses, Perils, and Pitfallls of Pseudonyms

A lot of writers use pseudonyms. But everyone knows that—everyone is pretty sure that Rhiannon St. Cyril is not someone’s birth name.

When I started publishing books, I didn’t use a pseudonym. My first book, Hopelessly Compromised, bore “Susan Swift” on the cover. Why? Well, that’s my name, and as one of my writer compadres put it, I don’t see the point of writing a book if people don’t know I did!” (Sweetie, the point is the royalties. And the joy of creation.)

I got that—we want folks to know that WE DID IT. We climbed the mountaintop—i.e. wrote the book, which was pretty dang hard. Then we had the onerous work of finding an agent or a publisher. Also difficult. Damn straight we want people to know!

However, my first book signing prompted a change in my pen name. “Susan Swift” is really long to write out a hundred times. At least it seemed like a hundred. Okay, maybe twenty. Okay, a couple members of my family and some friends showed up. Whatever.

In any event, my next books were published as “Sue Swift,” which is fine. They were light, sweet Silhouette Romances, and though “Sue Swift” is not a really romancey name—certainly not like, say, Adriana Featherington—it worked fine. Sue Swift fits nicely on book covers. It’s easy to remember and fast to write at a signing.

Then I started to write erotic romance. And not just any kind of erotic romance. My erotica tends to be dark, the heroines explorative and the heroes more than a bit wicked—but in a very hot way.

My sweet romance readers needed a pseudonym. Or so I was told by my writer buddies. That way fans can tell which books are gentle romance and which are over the top, and make their purchasing choices accordingly.

But what did I want to be called?

I’ve always been a busy, energetic, somewhat anxious person, and my name, Swift, reflects that. But it’s healthier to be relaxed.

So Suz deMello was born. Sue the mellow—just the person I wanted to become.

But a pen name is not all sweetness and light. Sure, it’s good for the reader, but what about me? I have to have two sites, which are linked by a common portal page to allow cross-pollination—you know, so readers who might want to read both styles can find all my books. But when it comes to promotional efforts like, say, a Goodreads presence or a Twitter feed—what do I do? Have TWO Twitter feeds? I can hardly keep up with one! Two blogs? No thanks, one’s enough.

So with every promo effort, I have to decide who I want to be: Sue or Suz. That’s hard since I am Sue and Suz, and I don’t like living with a divided self.

Suz has been very successful. Her most recent book is Temptation in Tartan, which reached #1 on the All Romance Ebooks list and hung out in the top five for a week. If you like eighteenth century vampires in kilts, this is the book for you. But be warned! This novel is not for the fainthearted. If your fantasies are a little rough-and-tumble and your fantasy lovers to be true men, then maybe, just maybe, you can handle Temptation in Tartan.

BLURB:

She had to marry a monster…

Rumors had followed the chieftains of Clan Kilborn for centuries. Said to be descended from the Viking Berserkers, they were ferocious in battle, known for tearing off the heads of their enemies and drinking their blood.

But English noblewoman Lydia Swann Williston would marry Kieran, Laird Kilborn, to bring peace to the Kilborn lands after the horror of Culloden and the brutal pacification. A widow, she also brought needed wealth to Clan Kilborn. For her part, eighteen-year-old Lydia wanted children. With her husband killed at Culloden, she would make a new life in the Highlands.

The old chieftain of Clan Kilborn also died in battle, and she hoped that the new young Laird would lack his ancestors' ferocity.

She was wrong.

BIO:
And here’s a little bit about me.
Best-selling, award-winning author Sue Swift, a.k.a Suz deMello, has written over fifteen novels, plus several short stories and non-fiction articles. She writes in numerous genres including romance, mystery, paranormal, historical, contemporary comedy and erotica. She’s a freelance editor who’s worked for Total-E-Bound, Ai Press, Liquid Silver Books and Etopia Press. She also takes on private clients.

Her books have been favorably reviewed in PW, Kirkus and Booklist, attained the finals of the RITA and hit several bestseller lists.

A former trial attorney, she resides in northern California. Her passion is world travel, and she’s left the US over a dozen times, including stints working overseas for many months. Right now, she's working on her next manuscript and planning her next trip.

Her blog is at http://www.fearlessfastpacedfiction.com
Find her reading picks @ReadThis4fun on Twitter, and befriend her on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/SueSwift).
Her sites are at http://www.sue-swift.com and http://www.suzdemello.com

61 comments:

Cara Marsi said...

Great interview. You have quite an impressive bio. My first book was pubbed under my real name which is very long and hard to pronounce for some people. I now have a pen name, shorter and easier to pronounce. And shorter to write for signings. I like both your pen names, but it must get confusing trying to keep track of promo for each name. Congratulations on all your books and on your new book which sounds wonderful.

jean hart stewart said...

Interesting, especially I just switched to writing erotica from kinda sweet and sexy. I'm getting some horrified reactions from some of my friends (???) but just let it go.

Suz said...

Thanks for your comments! Yes, not all my friends, Jean, know I write erotic romance. I never lie, but there are times when I just don't volunteer info, you know?

Thanks, Cara, for your flattering comment.

Molly Daniels said...

Here's how I solved my social media issue: Kenzie tweets, Molly does Facebook and GoodReads. But I did create a Kenzie author page on FB, and we both share a website. So far, it seems to be working:)

And my hubby jokes he's married to three women;)

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